The team announced earlier Saturday that Eaton had been placed on the disabled list with what was initially diagnosed as a left knee strain.
Fox Sports first reported that Eaton’s season is over.
Eaton suffered the injury in the ninth inning of Friday’s 7-5 loss to the New York Mets on a bang-bang play at first base. He hit a roller to the left side of the infield and just barely beat the throw to first. After reaching the bag, he collapsed in a heap, and the crowd at Nationals Park fell silent.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said earlier Saturday that he hoped Eaton’s injury was “not as serious as it looked.”
The 28-year-old outfielder, acquired in a blockbuster December trade with the Chicago White Sox that included the Nationals’ top two pitching prospects plus a 2016 first-round draft choice, was hitting .297 with two homers and 13 RBIs. His .393 on-base percentage is the second-best among leadoff hitters (minimum 50 plate appearances from that spot), trailing only Toronto‘s Kevin Pillar (.418).
Since his first full season in 2014, Eaton has been one of the most valuable outfielders in baseball, with only four others accounting for more Wins Above Replacement.
Trea Turner, last year’s runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year, will return to the leadoff spot in place of Eaton.
Michael A. Taylor will get the first shot at replacing Eaton in center field, though Baker made it sound as if Taylor will need to start hitting better in order to keep that job. Taylor entered Saturday batting only .095 (2-for-21), but he raised that to .195 by going 3-for-5 while hitting second behind Turner.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.